By Rajnish Singh (IANS)
Gujarat tops the list of five Indian states that are considered the "safest" for circulating counterfeit currency notes - allegedly pushed in by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency - according to the latest data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
Of the 30,354,604 counterfeit notes seized across the country, 87,47,820 were recovered from Gujarat in 2014.
Chhattisgarh followed close on the heels with the seizure of 7,386,900 fake notes, while Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana saw recoveries of 5,437,600, 3,249,000 and 1,696,850 counterfeit notes.
Police officers monitoring the circulation of fake notes suspect that the ISI is pushing such notes in India which have a greater resemblance to India's high denomination Rs.1,000 and Rs.500 notes. The officers said that they have been noticing for the past few months that differences between genuine and counterfeit notes were reducing and that around five such differences have actually disappeared.
"The paper being used to make the fake notes is now more similar. The stiffness is almost the same. The security thread (in the right half) on fake notes also resembles that on the genuine currency.
"The watermark (the portrait of Mahatma Gandhi in light and shade) has also been nearly matched," an officer, who did not want to be named, told IANS.
"The identification mark on the left of the note looks quite similar in counterfeit and genuine notes. The optical variable ink also looks similar," he added.
Of the 30,354,604 counterfeit notes seized across the country, those in the Rs.1,000 denomination was the highest at 19,895,000.
The recovery of notes in the Rs.500, Rs.100 and Rs.50 denominations across India was9,490,500; 938,800 and 25,000.
However, the seizure of other fake Indian currency was was a mere 5,304 pieces.
The NCRB data said that Chhattishgarh is the state from where highest 7,224,000 fake notes of Rs.1,000 denomination were recovered.
Gujarat was on the second highest with the recovery of 2,441,000 notes of the same denomination, followed by Punjab (3,179,000 notes) and Andhra Pradesh (2,441,000 notes).
Indian intelligence agencies are worried that despite some traditional smuggling routes of Fake Indian Currency Notes (FICN) being neutralized, the flow has not slowed.
The traditional route is the India-Pakistan border and several means are employed, including travel by road.
"All the border areas in India have been facing the problem with the circulation of fake notes trade and the drug trade," said the officer.
Apart from the road and railway routes, the air route via Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates, as also China and Holland, are being used for smuggling in fake notes.
A bank official, on condition of anonymity, told IANS that if one gets a fake note, he should immediately approach the nearby police station and register an FIR against the person who gave him the note.
"If a fake currency is withdrawn from any ATM, one should also file an FIR against that bank. The Reserve Bank of India penalizes such banks if they are found guilty," the official, who is a manager in State Bank of India, told IANS.